Looking for the truth..

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ConfusedApe
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Looking for the truth..

Postby ConfusedApe » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:45 pm

Hi there,

I'm 23 and have been interested in meditation for a number of years, but have recently been frustrated at my inability to see the truth. I feel confused and unable to see clearly the nature of self.

I intellectually believe that there is no self, but I definitely don't feel that way. I very much feel like I am my thoughts. When I meditate, I can see that thoughts arise without anything causing them or bringing them into being; I have no control over them. However, I somehow still can't shake the feeling that I am the thoughts, and that they belong to me. Ultimately, this leaves me feeling trapped.

I'd be very grateful to anyone willing to have a conversation with me about this topic. Any other questions, please just let me know!

- T

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moondog
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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby moondog » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:35 pm

First short post

Hi Confused Ape and welcome,

My name's Pete and I live in Somerset in England.

There are a few things that we need to go over so that I know the best way for us to continue.

Please tell me a bit about yourself and your story, how you came to LU and what it is that you're looking for. What should I call you?

Pete
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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ConfusedApe
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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby ConfusedApe » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:31 am

Hi Pete, thanks for your reply. You can call me Theo. I live in Australia.

As I mentioned in my first post, I've been interested in meditation and the concept of self for several years. I stumbled across the 'Gateless Gatecrashers' eBook on another forum. I've tried directly looking for the self but I haven't had much success, and it seems like having a conversation with someone else might really help me to see the truth.

I suppose that I am looking for relief from my busy mind, and painful clinging to self. I spend much of my time thinking neurotic thoughts, and I feel that my life and the life of people around me would be better if this illusion was broken, and I could let go of the constant propping up of an ego. I don't expect to have my life magically improve in every area, but I still long for freedom from this self that's constantly clinging to pleasurable feelings and constantly pushing away un-pleasurable feelings.

If you have any specific questions please feel free to ask!

- T

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moondog
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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby moondog » Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:55 pm

Hi Theo,

Thanks for letting me know a bit about yourself and how you've arrived at this point. No worries about the time difference; I've worked with quite a few folks from your side of the world and it hasn't been a problem. We just work round it.

Here are a few standard ground rules before we start:

You agree to post at least once a day, even if only to say that you're still around, and I'll do the same. Sometimes it might just not be possible for one of us to post substantively and of course we'd find a way to work round that. What time zone are you in?

I am not your teacher, all I can do is point and you look, until clear seeing happens.

In general, I will ask questions and you look deeply and respond with 100% honesty.

Responses require simple, uncontrived, honest looking. There are no wrong or right answers.

Responses are best from direct experience (the physical evidence of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, prior to the story or explanation about them). Long-winded, analytical and philosophical or stream of consciousness answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. Just listen very closely to the answers that arise in you, and answer to the very best of your ability at that time. (Read the article at http://liberationunleashed.com/articles ... xperience/ for more help on distinguishing what is direct experience.)

Put aside all other teachings, philosophies etc. for the duration of this investigation. Really put all your effort and attention into seeing this reality, as it is. (If you have a daily and essential meditation practice, it's ok to continue with that. And it's fine to read threads in this forum and the Gateless Gatecrashers book.)

Please learn to use the quote function, see http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?f=4&t=660 for instructions.

If you haven't already seen it, there is intro info at http://www.liberationunleashed.com/, together with our disclaimer and a short video.

Please confirm that you have seen these, that you agree to the disclaimer, and that you'd like me to be your guide and then we'll begin.

Let's start with a summary of what you're looking for and what you expect to find. I know you've already answered some of these, but please forgive any overlap and just fill in the gaps where you haven't, and we'll get started.

What are your expectations for this process?

What is it that you are searching for?

How will you know that you found it?

How will this feel?

How will this change you?


Finally, here's a couple of helpful points:

1) You can press 'subscribe to this topic' in the blue bar at the bottom of this page and receive a notification email every time I post here.

2) The site has a nasty habit of logging you out while you write a reply, which can mean you lose what you have written. One way to avoid this is to write elsewhere, then just paste the message into the 'reply' window when you're ready to send.

Don't worry, I don't intend to send any more posts this long, if I can help it! This is just to set things up for you nicely.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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ConfusedApe
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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby ConfusedApe » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:13 am

Hi Pete,

Thanks for the welcome. I'm very appreciative of you taking the time out of your day to try and assist myself and others like me in this goal, I think it's great that you do this.

I can definitely commit to posting at least once per day. I'm in the GMT+9:30 timezone (Central Australia). My replies will usually be at around this time (7:30pm in my timezone).

I have read the introduction and agree to the disclaimer.

My answers to your questions:
What are your expectations for this process?
I'm not entirely sure what to expect. From reading other threads, it appears that people have very good results from just discussing this topic with someone else, however the insights mentioned in those threads don't necessary 'do it' for me. I think being able to ask the questions which hold me back will be helpful.
What is it that you are searching for?
I'm searching for the ability to let go of the painful sense of self, if only temporarily. I believe most of our suffering in life comes from having an over-inflated and neurotic sense of self. I feel that my life would be improved if I could turn down this sense of self and experience life more directly, rather than through the lens of my over-analytical mind.
How will you know that you found it?
This is a tough question. I can imagine that the act of 'finding it' will be hard to describe, even after the incident. I think it would manifest with a sense of clarity, and I think I'd probably feel very relieved and laugh at all the things that 'I' used to worry about.
How will this feel?
Liberating, I'm expecting to feel some sense of relief at the ability to put down such a burden. I'm also expecting it to be somewhat scary. I feel like I was on the brink of the experience at one point, but turned back due to the fear I felt. It really did feel like I was about to step into the unknown, and I had a fear that the unknown could lead to insanity or some unthinkable pain.
How will this change you?
I'm hoping that this will make me less self-concerned, more able to enjoy the stream that is life without trying to parse everyhing through my mind. I think that it will likely make me generally more relaxed and able to be compassionate and less self-absorbed. I'm not under any illusions that I'll be blissfully happy forever, or that I'll gain any spooky powers. I'm just hoping to find the truth that is there to be found.

- T

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moondog
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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby moondog » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:15 pm

Hi Theo,
Thanks for the welcome. I'm very appreciative of you taking the time out of your day to try and assist myself and others like me in this goal, I think it's great that you do this.

No problem Theo; it's my pleasure to help you. Rest assured I'll do everything I can to point you to see that there's no separate self, and never has been.
I can definitely commit to posting at least once per day. I'm in the GMT+9:30 timezone (Central Australia). My replies will usually be at around this time (7:30pm in my timezone).

That's fine. I usually post some time in the afternoon BST (GMT+1), so that should work well. If and when I can't send a post on a particular day, I'll let you know and trust you'll do the same.
I'm searching for the ability to let go of the painful sense of self, if only temporarily. I believe most of our suffering in life comes from having an over-inflated and neurotic sense of self. I feel that my life would be improved if I could turn down this sense of self and experience life more directly, rather than through the lens of my over-analytical mind.

I can imagine that the act of 'finding it' will be hard to describe, even after the incident. I think it would manifest with a sense of clarity, and I think I'd probably feel very relieved and laugh at all the things that 'I' used to worry about.

I'm hoping that this will make me less self-concerned, more able to enjoy the stream that is life without trying to parse everyhing through my mind. I think that it will likely make me generally more relaxed and able to be compassionate and less self-absorbed. I'm not under any illusions th at I'll be blissfully happy forever, or that I'll gain any spooky powers. I'm just hoping to find the truth that is there to be found.

Thanks for sharing your expectations (some of which are quoted above), which are not unrealistic, and for your understanding of what seeing that you have no separate self might be like. It's natural, of course, to wonder and speculate about what this liberation/awakening will be like but, by its very nature, I can assure you that it's just not like anyone expects, although it does differ for each one of us. I'd just stress that the work we do is definitely not intellectual or thought-based. That being so, it's best to put aside any expectations, as they reside in thoughts about the future and so are not within direct experience.

Rest assured, that when you see that there isn't and never has been a 'you', a self-entity, with my guiding to help you see that fact for yourself, you'll just know. In exactly the same way that you know that unicorns aren't real, Batman doesn't exist, and there's no Santa Claus. It isn't fundamentally at all difficult, amazingly simple in fact, but only if you don't rely on trying to figure it out by thinking it through but, instead, just LOOK, LOOK, LOOK in direct experience.

So, excellent, as I've already said, actually seeing for sure that there is no separate self, and never has been, is different for everyone. It can come with a definite pop of realisation, or it might creep up gradually until it is seen. Also the effects on life lived after liberation can vary widely.

It’s worth mentioning at this early stage that what can hold a lot of people back, and something that we can perhaps knock on the head now, are assumptions around what one would 'be like' or what life ought to 'look like' once it’s seen that there’s no self-entity. There is a view that 'getting it' is tantamount to kind of somehow seeing it all the time, or being in some kind of state in which negative emotions or problems don’t arise.

It's really helpful to be clear that it's not any kind of state - it's simply direct knowing, insight. The Santa example puts it very well - 'seeing through' Santa, i.e. knowing for sure that there is no Santa, doesn't mean that little kids then spend the rest of their lives constantly thinking, 'there's no Santa'! Nor does it mean that Santa isn't apparently spotted in shopping malls in December. It's just that the story has been seen through. The direct knowing of no-self may be recollected at any time, but states still continue to come and go - pleasant, unpleasant, 'positive', 'negative'. However, that said, changes will be noticed, some possibly quite dramatic, including in relation to suffering arising from a pre-occupation with a separate self that simply doesn't exist!

I hope that's helped to clarify the background stuff a bit. Don't hesitate to ask me about any of this.

Moving on towards the core of this work - just look at the following statement, and ponder it every which way you can:

Nothing exists outside the present moment.

Can you find anything, anything at all, that does?


And next:

How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ 'me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?

Now look directly at the flow of experiencing. Where in that flow does the 'self' that you conceive reside? Can it be found, at all?


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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ConfusedApe
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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby ConfusedApe » Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:31 am

Hi Pete,

You mention that seeing through the self is like knowing that there is no Santa. I like this analogy but it somewhat confuses me, as it sounds like it makes the process mostly intelluctual. It's as if you just need to justify the claim that there is no self like you would any claim: through looking at the evidence and being convinced. I think I already accept intellectually that there's no self, but I don't really 'feel' it. I very much still identify with my thoughts and my story of self. An analogy I would make is that of knowing the scientific fact that human bodies are made of stardust, or knowing that I have a liver, or knowing that the earth is billions of years old. Even though I know these as true facts and believe them fully, it doesn't change how I feel in the present moment even remotely. I certainly feel there's something more to be experienced through directly 'feeling' that there isn't a self.

Moving on to your questions.
Nothing exists outside the present moment.

Can you find anything, anything at all, that does?
Initially it feels like thoughts exist outside of the present moment. They're dragging me into the past, or predicting the future. But on closer looking I agree that there isn't. Everything that can ever be noticed is happening as soon as it's noticed.
How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ 'me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?

Now look directly at the flow of experiencing. Where in that flow does the 'self' that you conceive reside? Can it be found, at all?
The 'self' feels like it's attached to thoughts somehow. Like each though has the contents of the thought, and then an extra 'I 'attached to it. If I'm lost in thought and then realise it, the 'self' then feels like whoever it was that noticed I was lost in thought.

When I'm lost in thought, I feel identical to each thought, like I am the stream of thoughts. When I'm concentrating on thoughts, I feel like a 'watcher' who is watching these thoughts, and then having thoughts and emotions about watching the thoughts (like frustration at constantly getting lost in thought).

I know on some level that this makes no sense, and that the thought that's judging me for thinking is just another thought. I guess that means that I really do just feel like my thoughts, and that I fully identify with each new one that pops into conciousness.

- T

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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby moondog » Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:45 pm

Hi Theo,
Initially it feels like thoughts exist outside of the present moment. They're dragging me into the past, or predicting the future. But on closer looking I agree that there isn't. Everything that can ever be noticed is happening as soon as it's noticed.

You got it. What's happening is what's noticed. All that can be found is what is being experienced.
The 'self' feels like it's attached to thoughts somehow. Like each though has the contents of the thought, and then an extra 'I 'attached to it. If I'm lost in thought and then realise it, the 'self' then feels like whoever it was that noticed I was lost in thought.

Excellent. It's really good that you can already see that.
When I'm lost in thought, I feel identical to each thought, like I am the stream of thoughts. When I'm concentrating on thoughts, I feel like a 'watcher' who is watching these thoughts, and then having thoughts and emotions about watching the thoughts (like frustration at constantly getting lost in thought).

Identifying with thoughts and believing what they say is such a big part of how this illusion of a separate self appears to function and we'll be moving on to looking at thoughts and thinking soon.
I like this analogy but it somewhat confuses me, as it sounds like it makes the process mostly intellectual. It's as if you just need to justify the claim that there is no self like you would any claim: through looking at the evidence and being convinced.

No Theo, the Santa example isn't intended to point to an intellectual, concept-based understanding at all. Quite the opposite. If we could see through the illusion of a separate self through analytical rigour, many, many more would have done so by now. That route doesn't work. I'll requote what I said, with precisely that point highlighted:
In exactly the same way that you know that unicorns aren't real, Batman doesn't exist, and there's no Santa Claus. It isn't fundamentally at all difficult, amazingly simple in fact, but only if you don't rely on trying to figure it out by thinking it through but, instead, just LOOK, LOOK, LOOK in direct experience.

These initial questions were really just to see where you stand in relation to seeing whether there's a separate self, and what you've said shows a good feel for what we're just about to start to looking at. Now I'll start to point towards looking in 'your' actual experience to see what can be found.

My job as your guide during this enquiry will be simply to point out to you where and how to look in direct experience so that you can see for sure for yourself whether there's a separate self-entity anywhere doing or being anything. I really like to maintain a specific skeleton structure to this process, which then allows us to explore much more loosely within each and every area within experience where a separate self might be found.

As you'll have seen, the initial questions point you towards looking into your experience, which is, as I say, where I'll be frequently pointing you to look, and where this investigation will take place. That's as opposed to thought content. Experiencing is the very core of what we're doing here with this. Essentially, and utterly fundamentally, all there is, and can ever be, is here right now in this moment. So looking to see whether a separate and separating self is to be found can only take place within the experience of this. Now. There's nothing else. It follows therefore that all of our work to realise and actually know that there is no separate self is done by investigating experience. To this end, we can divide experiencing into thought, sensations (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling [tactile and kinaesthetic] and an unmistakable sense of Aliveness (presence/being). I referred to the useful article on direct experience in the introductory post, and you might want to have another look at that.

As I keep saying, the whole of this investigation centres around looking in experience to see if a self-entity can be found anywhere there. This is accompanied by seeing that it is in thoughts and only in thoughts that 'I' ever 'occurs' and that 'I' doesn't actually occur there either because thoughts, or at least their contents, are neither reliable nor real in any sense.

So, let's start at last investigating where a self-entity might be by looking at sense arisings and the self as experiencer:

When you look at something, a book, a tree outside or whatever, can you find an 'I' that is looking or seeing, or is there just seeing?

If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?

Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.[


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby ConfusedApe » Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:37 am

When you look at something, a book, a tree outside or whatever, can you find an 'I' that is looking or seeing, or is there just seeing?
If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?
When I look at something, it feels like there's some 'I' controlling the seeing, like the 'I' is choosing to see, but I know that makes no sense. It's not like the 'I' can choose to not see and shut off vision. It's like there's some feeling of I attached to the decision of looking at something.
Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.[
I tried each of these and the one that really brings me the closest to experiencing the no self is hearing. When I close my eyes and listen to sounds, it doesn't feel like I'm trying to do anything. Sounds are just arising, and the hearing is just happening. Hearing can't be stopped from happening; I can't choose which sounds I hear. The whirring of the hard drive changes tones without me doing anything, I notice a bird sound without choosing to hear bird sounds.

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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby moondog » Sat Apr 11, 2015 3:25 pm

Hi Theo,
When I look at something, it feels like there's some 'I' controlling the seeing, like the 'I' is choosing to see, but I know that makes no sense. It's not like the 'I' can choose to not see and shut off vision. It's like there's some feeling of I attached to the decision of looking at something.
Ok, so just remember that we're only concerned with what is actually experienced, not thoughts you might have about experiences.

So, look again at something, an orange or a tree or whatever and please describe in detail the 'I' that you say you can feel. How does it control the seeing? What is 'your' experience of it? How does it appear?
I tried each of these and the one that really brings me the closest to experiencing the no self is hearing. When I close my eyes and listen to sounds, it doesn't feel like I'm trying to do anything. Sounds are just arising, and the hearing is just happening. Hearing can't be stopped from happening; I can't choose which sounds I hear. The whirring of the hard drive changes tones without me doing anything, I notice a bird sound without choosing to hear bird sounds

That's good Theo - I know exactly what you mean. But I wouldn't say 'experiencing the no self' because that tends to objectify something that's not actually there, as a thing, as 'no self'. It's just a matter of seeing an absence of something that 'you' always believed to be there: something that can't be experienced because it doesn't exist and never has. I'm not trying to be a smartarse here; it's important to see this distinction as early on as possible. However, it's really good that you can 'see' that there's just no separate self involved or present in hearing, because you can now expand this realisation to the other senses by looking at each of them.

So tell me, not at all from what thinking is saying, but solely from looking in 'your' direct experience, when looking at a tree, an orange, out of the window or whatever, can you find a 'you', a self-entity, present actually doing the seeing? If so, tell me what it looks like and how it does it.

Please do the same with each of the other four senses and let me know whether you can find an experiencer, or is there just hearing, tasting, touching and smelling, as well just seeing.

Also can you find any separation/distinction between seeing and the object that's been seen? The same goes for hearing, touching, tasting and smelling.


It's early days but rest assured Theo this is going well, just as it should.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby ConfusedApe » Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:52 am

That's good Theo - I know exactly what you mean. But I wouldn't say 'experiencing the no self' because that tends to objectify something that's not actually there, as a thing, as 'no self'. It's just a matter of seeing an absence of something that 'you' always believed to be there: something that can't be experienced because it doesn't exist and never has. I'm not trying to be a smartarse here; it's important to see this distinction as early on as possible.
Thanks Pete, I think I understand the difference. It seems like the 'I' was trying to creep in by thinking that it was the self experiencing a state of no self, rather than just the simple knowing of something not existing.
So tell me, not at all from what thinking is saying, but solely from looking in 'your' direct experience, when looking at a tree, an orange, out of the window or whatever, can you find a 'you', a self-entity, present actually doing the seeing? If so, tell me what it looks like and how it does it.

Please do the same with each of the other four senses and let me know whether you can find an experiencer, or is there just hearing, tasting, touching and smelling, as well just seeing.

Also can you find any separation/distinction between seeing and the object that's been seen? The same goes for hearing, touching, tasting and smelling.
This exercise lead me to an interesting experiece. I was staring at the escape key on my keyboard, and thinking about the distance that separated 'me' from the physical key. Why do I think of my fingers as being part of me, but I don't feel like the keys are a part of me?

It's occurring to me that the only reason I think of my fingers as 'me' but I don't think of the keys in the same way, is because my fingers have nerve endings which lead to the brain which is where thoughts are happening. The boundary doesn't seem to make any sense.

'I' am just conciousness. That is to say that 'I' am just whatever it is that 'I' am aware of. I'm thoughts, sounds, images, all of it. My default intuition during my life has been that I am my thoughts, but why would I only be my thoughts? I have the same amount of control over the next thought that occurs as I do the next sound that hits my eardrums, so why do I think I'm one but not the other? The outside world is the exact same place where I'm thinking.

I don't necessarily feel like I don't exist at this stage, but it doesn't seem to make any sense that to believe that I'm thoughts without also believing that I'm sounds, images, smells and tastes as well.

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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby moondog » Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:06 pm

Hi Theo,
Thanks Pete, I think I understand the difference. It seems like the 'I' was trying to creep in by thinking that it was the self experiencing a state of no self, rather than just the simple knowing of something not existing.[

Yeah, as you say, it's simply that whenever you 'look and check', you just know there's no separate self to be found, anywhere.
This exercise lead me to an interesting experience. I was staring at the escape key on my keyboard, and thinking about the distance that separated 'me' from the physical key. Why do I think of my fingers as being part of me, but I don't feel like the keys are a part of me?
It's occurring to me that the only reason I think of my fingers as 'me' but I don't think of the keys in the same way, is because my fingers have nerve endings which lead to the brain which is where thoughts are happening. The boundary doesn't seem to make any sense.
Ok, that's fine Theo but it's just more thinking; see the italics in the quotation of what you said, above. You told me earlier that, I think I already accept intellectually that there's no self, but I don't really 'feel' it. I very much still identify with my thoughts and my story of self. in my reply I said, It isn't fundamentally at all difficult, amazingly simple in fact, but only if you don't rely on trying to figure it out by thinking it through but, instead, just LOOK, LOOK, LOOK in direct experience.
I' am just conciousness. That is to say that 'I' am just whatever it is that 'I' am aware of. I'm thoughts, sounds, images, all of it. My default intuition during my life has been that I am my thoughts, but why would I only be my thoughts? I have the same amount of control over the next thought that occurs as I do the next sound that hits my eardrums, so why do I think I'm one but not the other? The outside world is the exact same place where I'm thinking.

Again, just great and I agree with every word, but it's thought-based and conceptual. I've guided many folks to see for themselves for sure that there's no separate self to be found anywhere and it's always been by looking at experiencing not thinking. That simply doesn't work. You seemed to grok this in terms of hearing so there doesn't seem to be a problem but if, after re-reading Neil Jalaldeen's article at http://liberationunleashed.com/articles ... xperience/ there still seems to be a problem, please let me know and I'll help clarify any points.

Anyway, if all is ok, please let me have your response to these exercises on looking for a separate self in sense arisings:

Please tell me, not at all from what thinking is saying, but solely from looking in 'your' direct experience, when looking at a tree, an orange, out of the window or whatever, can you find a 'you', a self-entity, present actually doing the seeing? If so, tell me what it looks like and how it does it.

Please do the same with each of the other four senses and let me know whether you can find an experiencer, or is there just hearing, tasting, touching and smelling, as well just seeing.

Also can you find any separation/distinction between seeing and the object that's been seen? The same goes for hearing, touching, tasting and smelling.


This is really useful stuff Theo.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby ConfusedApe » Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:44 am

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your honesty, I appreciate that you're pushing me to really see the truth instead of just letting me think that I see it.

I'm having some trouble breaking through thought and really seeing directly. I've had some moments in the last few days where it's felt like I've started to clearly see the lack of I in reality. But inevitably, it seems that thought rushes in and starts naming what it's seeing. Thoughts like 'oh there really isn't a self' and 'this is going well' rush in and I realise that I'm just lost in thought and that thoughts are trying to turn this all into a concept. I've read the article you've linked me to, but I still seem to be lost in the mind and unable to see direct experience without trying to label everything. Are there any exercises that you think might help me with this?

Somehow, when I still feel like there is an 'I' doing the looking. I know this makes no sense, but it's a feeling which seems to always be there, as if 'I' am somehow controlling my eyes.

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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby moondog » Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:33 pm

Hi Theo,
I'm having some trouble breaking through thought and really seeing directly. I've had some moments in the last few days where it's felt like I've started to clearly see the lack of I in reality. But inevitably, it seems that thought rushes in and starts naming what it's seeing. Thoughts like 'oh there really isn't a self' and 'this is going well' rush in and I realise that I'm just lost in thought and that thoughts are trying to turn this all into a concept. I've read the article you've linked me to, but I still seem to be lost in the mind and unable to see direct experience without trying to label everything. Are there any exercises that you think might help me with this?[

No worries Theo, what you are describing often happens to folks at this point. You talk about ' 'breaking through thought' which suggests some kind of wilful effort on your part. Don't try to do or attain anything; doing that just strengthens the illusion that there's some kind of self-entity that can do things, when there just isn't.

Direct experience isn't some special state. It's our everyday awareness of life, of what's happening right now. We don't try to get into it. We're already in it, we are already it, right here and right now! All you need to do is just pay attention in an ordinary, relaxed way.

For instance, just try gazing out of your window at whatever's out there, in a kind of relaxed, not-particularly-focused way; just gently gazing as if you were looking at the whole of a large landscape painting. Now (in a very relaxed way, letting thoughts be, but ignoring what they might be trying to tell you) just look to see whether you can find any seer, any entity that's doing any seeing. Or is there just seeing? Can you find any separation between seer, seeing and what's being seen? Or is there just seeing?

Thoughts will just happen. They are as much part of life as any other sense arisings and it's best just to let them come and go as they'll just do that anyway. Just notice thoughts as they arise, be entirely accepting of them, watch them abide a while and then disappear. Indeed, you'll see that as soon as thoughts are exposed to the light of awareness, i.e. as soon as 'you' notice them, they just shrivel away. So, if your problem appears to be getting lost in thought (rather than having thoughts - thinking - which is fine) noticing what's happening brings 'you' back to presence straightaway.
Somehow, when I still feel like there is an 'I' doing the looking. I know this makes no sense, but it's a feeling which seems to always be there, as if 'I' am somehow controlling my eyes.[

Awareness is 'doing' the looking. It is the looking. Awareness is that 'feeling' of aliveness that's always here and the ego/I-thoughts kind of piggy-back on that eternal presence to bolster the illusion of a separate self. So that might help explain why you feel you (as a separate self-entity) are doing the looking.

But, aside from that, can you find an actual entity doing or controlling seeing anywhere in your experience?

Anyway Theo, I hope That's helped clarify all of this. Have a go at the questions/exercises above and then the ones that I suggested last time and let me know what experience (not thinking) shows you.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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ConfusedApe
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Re: Looking for the truth..

Postby ConfusedApe » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:04 pm

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your notes. I get what you are saying, but I'm still having trouble feeling the direct experience. I feel like I don't know how to just look without thoughts getting involved. When I try to ask myself the question of 'who or what is looking' this question comes as a thought, which leads me on to another thought and I eventually get lost in the mind without noticing. I'm not sure if I just need to sharpen my attention.

I'll continue looking and considering the questions you've posted. I'll keep you updated.

Thanks

- T


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